Lucasfilm released the trailer for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story on Thursday, and it is quite a rush. Nevertheless, it is a marked departure from many familiar “Star Wars” themes.
Rogue One takes place between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. The Empire has formed, and is preparing its ultimate weapon, the Death Star. A group of rebel fighters must steal the plans to this Death Star in order to discover its weaknesses and destroy the weapon, which happens at the end of A New Hope.
The story is intriguing, and the action looks great, but there are a few odd elements to Rogue One which may rub a good Star Wars aficionado the wrong way. On the other hand, these departures from tradition may prove refreshing, showing just how versatile is the Star Wars universe, and how compellingly real, even without a single Skywalker.
Here are four of those departures.
1. No Jedi, No Sith.
The main action in each of the Star Wars films centers around the battle between good and evil, and the Jedi and the Sith are good stand-ins for those. The Empire and the Rebellion have also served that purpose, and they will be in full force here, but it just seems wrong for a Star Wars film to neglect the Force and the bitter enemies on either side of it.
Then again, I may be speaking too soon. The trailer is only a tiny glimpse at the film, and Rogue One may feature the Force in important and more sublte ways. We may also get a real treat — a surprise visit from that most iconic of villains, Darth Vader. This would be a fantastic Easter Egg, and if The Force Awakens is any sign of future films to come, Rogue One will be chock full of such tributes to the lore.
Next Page: The main character is morally ambiguous.
2. Our Hero Is a Convict.
The trailer makes no bones about the kind of character Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) is. The trailer opens with a litany of her former offenses:
Forgery of Imperial documents. Possession of stolen property. Aggravated assault. Resisting Arrest.
On your own from the age of fifteen. Reckless. Aggressive. Undisciplined.
Erso justifies these things by asking, “This is a rebellion, isn’t it? I rebel.”
And this is a Star Wars hero? Sounds more like a villain from the series. “Reckless, aggressive, undisciplined”: Are we talking about Anakin Skywalker? In The Empire Strikes Back, Yoda clearly warns against such things:
Yes, a Jedi’s strength flows from the Force. But beware of the dark side. Anger, fear, aggression; the dark side of the Force are they. Easily they flow, quick to join you in a fight. If once you start down the dark path, forever it will dominate your destiny, consume you it will, as it did Obi-Wan’s apprentice.
Fair enough, this is the evil Empire we’re talking about. Being on the wrong side of their laws might be a sign of common sense, not bad character. But the morality of the light side of the Force is not to be hastily discarded. Let’s hope this description is incomplete, and that Erso uses her aggression for good.
Next Page: Is this the Hunger Games?
3. I Give You Katniss Everdeen, from the Planet Malasdair!
I get it, empowered young women are cool. Jyn Erso’s a rebel, Katniss Everdeen’s a rebel, we like rebels. But this image seems a bit over-the-top. We get Katniss’ pose, with weapons that look just like her signature bow. I’m half expecting Felicity Jones to pull out an arrow and shoot it directly at the judges. I mean, come on, The Hunger Games are over, right? Right?!
All kidding aside, the Star Wars universe has very much focused on male coming-of-age stories, and it’s good to see The Force Awakens and Rogue One giving the ladies some major on-screen character development. We don’t get a lot of real information about Erso, except that she’s a rebel with a bad family history, and she seems almost engineered for the job she’s destined to do. Her centrality to the plot suggests her character will grow a great deal, however, and Star Wars fans who loved Han Solo might find a similar hero.
Next Page: Asian fighting techniques.
4. Asian Martial Arts…in Star Wars?
Don’t get me wrong, I loved Rush Hour just as much as the next guy. But Asian martial arts haven’t really played a role in Star Wars before. This series had its own share of hand-to-hand combat, but it was largely Western swordplay — with lightsabers.
The Rogue One trailer has a cool little clip of martial artist Donnie Yen wielding a staff against stormtroopers like a Zen master. Again, this is not your traditional Star Wars, but it might be refreshing to see some Asian techniques in this very American universe.
Here’s the trailer: